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Modernists may prefer the all-electric Mustang Mach-E, but the 2024 Ford Mustang has the look and feel of one that fully embraces its heritage.Handout

Mustang and Detroit.

Both the car, which was born here in the mid-1960s, and the city stand as icons of the United States’ auto-industry-driven finest hour – of an expression of gleeful V8-powered 1960s optimism in an era when drivers had yet to hear of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) oil embargo, climate change or threats to its military and industrial might.

That’s why the newest Mustang – the seventh generation of America’s nearly 60-year-old road trip – will arrive next summer with an available five-litre Coyote V8 engine, an available six-speed manual transmission and a growl coming out of quad pipes that will send Tesla owners scrambling for cover.

The beautiful, testosterone-laden 2024 Mustang, revealed Wednesday during the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, is poised defiantly as the muscle-car era’s last stand against the future of mobility. The immensity of the car’s heritage will be underscored Wednesday by the arrival of about 1,000 Mustangs of various vintages, and 1,600 owners and passengers in downtown Detroit.

“We wanted to excite our current base, but engage a new generation of enthusiasts,” said Alicia Agius, Ford’s lead of innovation and strategy.

Pricing for the 2024 Mustang has not been announced. The 2022 models range in Canada from an entry level $32,395 up to $70,145 for the normally aspirated Mach 1 premium. The turbocharged Shelby GT model starts at $102,145.

Modernists may prefer the all-electric Mustang Mach-E, but this – the car revealed to journalists Tuesday – has the look and feel of a Mustang that fully embraces its heritage. Here’s why:

It looks like a Mustang, only better. It is arguably the best-looking Mustang ever. Designers paid a lot of attention to details such as the long hood, short deck, chamfered front fenders and chevroned rear lamps to ensure this could only be recognized as a Mustang. Yet it is also edgier than previous generations, with a deep horizontal front grill and rear deck that makes it look lower and wider than the current model (although it’s not, company spokespeople say). The distinct bump over the rear wheels signals its muscular nature.

It’s powered like a Mustang. Well, the base engine will be an updated 2.3-litre EcoBoost four-cylinder engine (horsepower not yet rated), paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission. But this ‘Stang will likely be know for its top-trim, five-litre Coyote V8, which has the oomph and growl of a real muscle car, especially with that six-speed manual. The company claims the updated engine, also not yet rated, will do better than the current 460 horsepower. and 420 lb.-ft of torque.

It is more refined than previous Mustangs. Unlike the evolutionary exterior looks, the interior of the Mustang was totally redone to make it feel “disruptive.” The long-standing double-brow dash is gone, replaced by a fully integrated 12.2-inch driver-oriented digital instrument cluster next to a 13.4-inch centre-stack display. The steering wheel is fatter and flattened at the bottom. New soft-fabric treatments and leather upgrades can be colour co-ordinated with the seat belts.

It looks like it will be more fun to drive. Armed with market research on Gen Z drivers, engineers added an electronic drift brake, with a lever mounted close to the driver’s right hand. Yanking on the handle in corners will let you drift like a Fast and the Furious pro. Jim Owens, Mustang’s brand manager, says this feature aims to appeal to the drifting culture; we look forward to trying it out. The GT model will also have six-piston Brembo brakes on the front and four-piston Brembos on the rear to improve stopping power.

The 2024 Ford Mustang has a six-speed manual transmission, and a 12.2-inch digital instrument cluster next to a 13.4-inch centre-stack display.Handout

A few things haven’t changed. The Mustang sits on the same chassis as the current model and, although numbers are not yet available, it is expected to weigh about the same.

Owens says buyers who want an EV Mustang have the Mach-E option; Ford chose to keep gas in this car because, “They want an internal combustion engine.”

“We’re excited to have introduced the seventh generation with the powertrains they have,” he said in an interview. The appeal to a new generation will not be through electrification, he said, but rather through technology.

That tech includes Ford Co-Pilot 360 features, a package that provides speed sign recognition, adaptive cruise control, lane centring assist, evasive steer assist and reverse brake assist. The FordPass app also updates drivers on fuel and oil levels, service history and warranty information. Ford says you can even rev the engine from your remote control – presumably to impress the neighbours.

The decision to stick with a fully gas-powered vehicle (boutique hypercar-maker Koenigsegg is also keeping gas in its 1,363-horsepower CC850 supercar) runs against the electrification tsunami. Stellantis has chosen the opposite course, recently unveiling its all-electric Dodge Charger Daytona SRT Concept supercar, complete with 126 decibels of fake exhaust noise through its so-called Fratzonic chambered exhaust.

Stellantis says the all-electric SRT will go into production in 2024. GM, meanwhile, has yet to announce whether its Camaro pony car will go electric. Pitting the gas-powered Mustang against the EV Charger will be a fascinating test of just how strong drivers’ attachment to the muscle car era is linked to the use of fossil fuels.

The seventh-generation Mustang, a 2024 model, will be assembled in Flat Rock, Mich., and will go on sale in the North America in summer 2023.

The writer was a guest of the auto maker. Content was not subject to approval.

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